Coming into Cal, I didn’t really know what to expect. I had never seen the campus until I moved into my dorm at Clark Kerr for my first year. I was the only one in my graduating class from high school to come to Cal. So, you’d think the odds were stacked against me, right? At first, I thought so, too. I didn’t know if I would necessarily fit into any group on campus. However, I started discovering myself, who I wanted to be in this world, and what I wanted to do with my time at Cal. Thus, I found my small community within this large university with over 45,000 students. You’re probably wondering how I did it. And if you’re anything like me, it’s probably very scary coming into a new environment. So, I've got you covered! Here’s how I found my community at Cal and how you start to find yours here, too!
Go Out With Your Roommates: The first people I ever met in real life (and not on Zoom) at Berkeley were my roommates in my first year. With them being from Texas and me being from Southern California, the Bay Area was a whole new territory. So, we bonded over the fact that we got to explore a new area together. I lived in a triple my first year, and my roommates and I were always together at some point or another. Thus, we got to meet new people together. It helped me feel at ease entering this new environment as I ventured out with them. Soon enough, we had a whole group of people we’d do a Friday game night with almost every week.
(Re)Discover Your Spark: Entering Cal, I was excited to try new things. However, I wanted to revisit some of the old hobbies I had to see if I could get back into them. One of them was dancing. I danced throughout high school. But, I wanted to try new styles and rediscover my old roots as a competitve dancer. Thus, I joined Ballet Folklorico on campus and started taking the Modern Dance classes offered through the Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies Department. I started making new friends both in and out of the classroom and became more comfortable with meeting new people outside of my dorm. I’m still in touch with a lot of those people today and get to perform with them through TDPS!
Put Yourself Out There: This was probably the most scary thing I had to do, but ultimately, it was the most essential. Slowly (but surely), I became more comfortable putting myself out there and joining new clubs on campus. Even today, I keep finding out who my community is and learning more about myself. Frontera@Berkeley is one of the new clubs I joined in my second year, and I fell in love with everyone there. Finding people interested in the same things made me feel more included and welcomed within this large university. Plus, we get to do amazing work helping research migration and border policies and getting more people involved in our mission. In short, it combines two things: meeting new people and making a lasting change in the community.
As you navigate Berkeley, with over 1,200 clubs and 45,000 students to meet, it can be really scary at first. But, you’re not alone! With time, you’ll find the people who’ll make your time at Cal some of the most unforgettable memories of your life. Enjoy discovering who you are and your community here!